Page last updated at 21:00 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 22:00 UK

UK students train African teachers

Teacher Davy Cummings from the Shetland Islands and School Reporter Nicole from Cardinal Pole RC School in Hackney, London
Teacher Davy Cummings helps School Reporter Nicole, 13, search for a story

School Reporters from the UK passed on their journalism tips to African teachers so that students in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania can also make the news for real.

As part of a four-day training event, 10 African teachers and five members of staff from their UK partner schools worked alongside a class of Year 9 students from Cardinal Pole RC School in Hackney, London.

Supported by five African journalists, they worked to a strict deadline to produce five radio news bulletins at Hackney City Learning Centre on 7 October.

Working in small partnership groups, the teachers will now cascade the learning to their own students, as well as to students in other connected schools.

Teacher Olivia Oppong Fosu works with Ghanian journalist Jeremie Van-Garshong
Ghanian partnership: Teacher Olivia and journalist Jeremie

The training, which was organised by teams from the BBC's School Report project and the British Council's Connecting Classrooms programme, will enable 45 more schools - 15 in the UK and 30 in Africa - to take part in the BBC's news-making initiative for young people.


The students were able to draw on their experience of taking part in School Report's annual News Day in March in order to meet the two o'clock deadline.

"I'm ashamed to say that they are faster than we were yesterday," said teacher Olivia Oppong Fosu, referring to the training which took place on Tuesday, when the teachers and journalists tried their hand at making a bulletin without the children's input.

The teacher from Headlines Educational Centre in Kumasi, Ghana, added: "They've had a go at it before and practice makes perfect. Also, they are on top of the issues when it comes to their interests. We needed to tap into their brains to know what interests them."

While one group of students chose to focus on a story about rappers trying to pervert the course of justice and EastEnders' Stacey helping bi-polar sufferers, a group of teachers topped their bulletin with reports about a London shooting and mobile phone coverage.

Student editor, Esther, 13, from  Cardinal Pole RC School in Hackney, London
Student editor, Esther, 13, allocated roles and stories to her news team

Esther, 13, explained her editorial choice: "So many youths and people in my own class listen to rap music and I thought it wouldn't be good if they were influenced by what was going on with the rappers; using songs to make people not talk to the police. With the EastEnders story, it helped people in real life identify that they had bi-polar. There are a lot of people in the world that have troubles but they don't actually know what's going on. Lots of people watch TV, so if you can help them by the media, it's really useful."

Tricks of the trade

Teacher Graham Steele from South Africa and Joe Lemaron from the British Council's Connecting Classroom's programme
Teacher Graham Steele applies a digital lesson learned from the students

Teacher Graham Steele from South Africa noticed that as well as a difference in news agendas, students and teachers sourced news in different ways. "We sat with a newspaper but the kids came in straight away and looked on various different sites - and not only the BBC but a number of sites," he said.

Teachers were keen to make use of journalistic practice, applied by School Reporters, in their own classrooms. Senior teacher Ann Wambo, from Lady of Mercy Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya, said:

Senior teacher Ann Wambo from Lady of Mercy Secondary School in Nairobi, Kenya
Ann Wambo's school in Kenya is linked to schools in the Shetlands and Ghana

"What I discovered about the students is that they are well organised, able to share work in a group and agree on who is going to do what. When I go back, I will try to instil this self-motivation in my students."

Once trained by their teachers, students will work with their African and UK partners on news stories of importance to them. In particular, they will be reporting on issues connected with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, in December, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Project manager for Connecting Classrooms in Sub-Saharan Africa, Jane Henry
Through Connecting Classrooms Jane Henry links African and UK schools

Project manager for Connecting Classrooms in Sub-Saharan Africa, Jane Henry, said: "School Report gives children a voice. A lot of children are involved in community projects as well as those within their schools. It would be great for them to be able to report on them, so they can reach out to more of their community."

The African and UK schools involved in the pilot project, organised by the BBC and the British Council, will also join hundreds of other UK schools to participate in School Report News Day on 11 March 2010, publishing news stories on their school websites.


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